Follow Friday: Ancestoring

Here we are at another edition of Follow Friday.  Today I’m spotlighting Ancestoring, a family history blog written by Michele Simmons Lewis is a professional genealogist who writes a blog geared toward the beginner and intermediate researcher.

As I was cruising thru the plethora of posts on her blog, I ran into one that grabbed my attention.  My grandfather the “Nazi” was a good reminder of why genealogists should not make assumptions.  The story of Michele’s grandfather is quite interesting and reminds that, when researching, it’s important to look at the history surrounding the time and person you’re researching because there may be some facts that would make a difference in your research.

Michele’s blog contains information on everything from numbering systems to timelines.  I appreciate that she will occasionally stop and answer questions she receives.  Her post on Questions About Wills and Probate was very helpful (as are many of her other posts).

This is not a blog you will want to rush thru.  There is a LOT of information on Michele’s blog and I’ve had to Pocket it so that I know I need to stop and really read what she has on there.  I appreciate that, while she imparts a lot of information on her blog, she does so in a short and sweet manner.  I tend to get distracted easily so long blog posts tend to lose me part way thru.

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Around the Town Thursday: Twelfth Street Viaduct Bridge

Welcome to another Around the Town Thursday!  Now I know what you’re thinking: “A bridge??  You’re writing about a bridge??”  But this isn’t just any bridge.  Today I’m highlighting the Twelfth Street Viaduct Bridge in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Missouri.

Mid-level of the Twelfth Street Viaduct Bridge

Native Kansas Citians will recognize this bridge as being down near all the popular haunted houses and the American Royal.  But the bridge has a very interesting history.  Created to be a link between the business district and the industrial district of Kansas City, Missouri, the Viaduct was created by the great minds at Waddell and Harrington (a Kansas City architecture firm) in 1915.  It is one of the earliest examples of a double-decked, reinforced concrete bridge.  The upper level goes from the Central Business District to the West Bottoms.  The lower level goes into Westside, which contains a variety of restaurants and shops.  And below the bridge…well below the bridge are the original cobblestone street farmers would travel back in the day when the bridge was still young.

View from the lower level of the Twelfth Street Viaduct Bridge
Kansas City, Missouri

Architectural & Historic Research, LLC has a fantastic piece on their website titled “An Historical Perspective of Kansas City’s Twelfth Street Trafficway Viaduct 1911-1915” (written by Cyndy Millstein) that contains a ton of great information about the history of the Viaduct and the architects that built it.  There’s also a brief history of the bridge on the Historic West Bottoms website.

A very interesting piece of information I discovered during the researching of this post: you can rent the bridge for events.  Weddings, parties, and other events can be held (for a price) either on the lower level or below the bridge on the cobblestone street.  How fun!  I’m not sure how I missed THAT venue for my wedding in June but D1 definitely had a bit of venue envy when I told him the bridge could be rented for events.  You can find rental information for the bridge here.

And just because I can, I’m going to throw a little spotlight my dear husband’s way.  In 1997, the music group U2 did a music video here in Kansas City for their song “Last Night on Earth”.  The video producers were looking for some old, run down cars for the video and D1 was (and still is) the proud owner of a 1972 Chevy Chevelle.  Said Chevelle ended up in that video as an “extra” (the music video can be viewed on Dailymotion).  At 2:33 if you look past the open truck door to the next car bumper, that bumper belongs to D1’s Chevelle. And then again at 2:40 if you look through the rear view window of the car being driven down the bridge you can see some round taillights of a car.  Those taillights belong to D1’s Chevelle as well.  It’s a memory D1 smiles about each time he tells the story.

It was fun to take a drive down the bridge for pictures for this post.  If you’re planning to go see the bridge I would strongly suggest going on a Sunday evening, around 4:00pm or so because there’s hardly any traffic at all.

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Tombstone Tuesday: Clarence Harvey Altman

Welcome to another edition of Tombstone Tuesday.  Continuing with the family buried in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery, today’s tombstone belongs to my paternal great-uncle, Clarence Harvey Altman.

Tombstone of Ludwig, Ida and Clarence Harvey Altman
Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota

Clarence Harvey was the first of four children of Ludwig Wilhelm Altman and Ida Marie (Krueger) Altman.  He had two brothers (both younger) and one sister (also younger).

Clarence was born 14 April 1907 in Lisbon, Ransom, North Dakota and died 18 April 1933 in Ransom County, North Dakota.  He is buried next to his parents, Ludwig and Ida Altman, in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  The cemetery borders what used to be family farmland.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Talking Tech: Family tree apps for the iPad – MobileFamilyTree

Welcome to the last entry in my series on family tree apps for iGadgets.  This week I’m reviewing MobileFamilyTree.  In previous entries I’ve reviewed GedView, Heredis and LiveHistory.


MobileFamilyTree by Synium is another fairly young app.  I learned about it by doing either a Google search or by searching in the App Store.  And here’s my disclaimer for this week: The developers of MobileFamilyTree were kind enough to provide me with a free copy of the app to look at and review.  I make every effort to ensure my posts are fair and unbiased whether I pay for the item (in this case, the app) or it is provided to me at reduced or no cost.

MobileFamilyTree currently only has one review in the App Store for it.  Not having used the app with Family Search (I don’t currently have a tree on Family Search) I can’t speak to whether the review is accurate or not.

And getting right down to it…

The Good:

  • The interface is very good looking.
  • The GEDCOM import was very easy and I loved how the import progress bar showed not only how far it was in the import process and how far it had to go but it also showed how many people, families, etc. were being imported so I could verify right away that everything imported.
  • The menu options of running reports or viewing the virtual family tree right in the individual record are really great
  • Seeing the fields for nicknames and other names was very exciting!  Not every app has these fields.  And YAY!  A field for married name!  That’s a great idea, so you can show whether a female changed their name, kept their maiden name or hyphenated their name!  That feature gets an A+
  • Being someone who works in databases all day I was also thrilled to see appropriate fields for title and suffix as well.


  • There is a good selection of person event options to add to each record.  From adoption to wills and everything in between INCLUDING faith and residences
  • Another home run: the Associated Person field.  Wow, what a great idea to be able to associate a witness or godparent with an event!
  • The in app help is really good.
  • The Research Assistant and Family Search integration are nice features.


  • The reports are fantastic!  I especially like the format of the to-do report.
  • The options that are available of both the views and the reports is wonderful!
  • I like being able to see both the databases you have and the GEDCOM files you’ve opened in the front screen.
  • It’s nice to be able to export to a GEDCOM file or share via the cloud, not all apps have even one of those options, let alone both.
  • Individuals can be bookmarked for easy access, which is a great option.  A start person can also be identified.
  • The labels section is an interesting addition.  I can see there being some potential with that.
  • It has the option to merge a person and add media.
  • The “Places” screen is pretty interesting.  I can see the potential for that area if you’re looking for things in certain locations.
  • Navigation is very easy, being set up similar to using a web browser.  This set up makes it quick and easy to move between individuals and families and makes it quick and easy to move from one individual to another.


The Bad:

  • Not being able to see the full location in the “Persons” list is a pretty big inconvenience.  Only the city is currently visible so, for example, if you have two George Smiths with one born in Kansas City, MO and the other in Kansas City, KS you would have to go into each record to see which person was the person you wanted.  Including complete location information in the “Persons” view would make locating the correct person a little quicker.
  • Being able to select a preferred partner or to re-order the partners to show the most recent union first is really necessary functionality in my opinion.
  • Including functionality to allow re-ordering of facts (or other items) would be really helpful.  I like to see my items in chronologically order and unless you enter them that way in this app it doesn’t seem to allow you to re-order them.  A genealogist rarely gets to enter events chronologically.
  • There’s no field where you can add your own organization code.  Other apps have had this option and it was really nice.
  • Being able to add a source right from the screen of the person you’re working in would be much better than having to add it before including the source in a person’s record.  On the other hand, it’s nice to have the option to be able to add sources.

The Ugly:

  • I would love to see the to-do list have a checkbox next to the item so you could check it off and have it be hidden from the current to-dos on a done list (similar to the Apple “Reminders” app) or at least be moved to the bottom of the to-do list and show as done.  It’s kind of clunky when you have to edit the item to mark it done and then it still shows on the to-do list.
  • I’d love to see the option of adding new “types” in the to-do screen.  “Further research” is just too generic for my tastes.
  • I’d also love to see the name/item that’s been associated with a to-do show up in the list of to-dos so you don’t have to look at each item to know who it’s for.  For example, I needed to get several birth certificates.  I titled each item “Get birth certificate copy” and assigned it to a person.  I would have liked to have been able to look at the to-do list and see the title of the to-do and somewhere next to or underneath have the to-do assignment listed.

Recommendations not necessarily falling in the above categories:

  • I know developers are trying very hard to be all-inclusive but I would prefer to have spouse or partner fields to be selectable between the two as opposed to titled specifically “Spouse” or “Partner”.  I can see why it’s been titled such and that’s really a minor personal preference complaint.

I highly recommend this app for any iGadget user, although it has the potential to be somewhat confusing for new iGadget users.  The help documentation is very good on this app though so don’t be intimidated by all the bells and whistles it has!

Overall grade: A

That’s it for Talking Tech (for now).  If anyone happens to see another app they’d like to have me review please don’t hesitate to contact me and let me know.  I’m always happy to spend some time reviewing items that could be helpful to genealogists.

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Follow Friday: A Southern Sleuth

It’s Friday and we all know what that means…Follow Friday!  Today we’re looking at A Southern Sleuth, a journey along with Michelle Taggart as she searches for her southern roots.

I don’t limit myself to only reading blogs about genealogy that only applies to my genealogical situation.  I read about Croatian genealogy, Jewish genealogy and Southern genealogy to name a few that don’t currently apply to my genealogy.  Why?  Because you never know, one day it might apply to my genealogy.  Or, that blogger might have tried something that I didn’t think about trying.

What I like best about Michelle’s posts are the fact that, in several posts I read, I noticed she was wondering about her ancestor’s thoughts or actions, what their lives were like and wishing she knew all their stories.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Gift of Time and Giggling With the Pig and I also remember giggling about the name Piggly Wiggly as a child (and, yes, it still makes me smile today).

Take a few minutes today and go enjoy the stories told by Michelle on her blog.  It’ll be well worth your time.

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